Astronomers have discovered pulsations from a black hole 12 million light-years away by looking through data from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite.
The rare black hole, M82 X-1 is a midsize hole. Most black holes are made up of dying stars and can measure up to 25 times the mass of our Sun. As gas falls towards a black hole, it produces heat and then X-rays form – this happens mostly at the event horizon of the hole, the place where nothing can escape, not even light.
RXTE was launched in 1995 but decommissioned in 2012, however it is still provides researchers with information about black holes. RXTE is one of NASA’s longest-serving astrophysics missions.
A new NASA X-ray mission, the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER), is set to launch to the International Space Station in 2016. Read more about the observations of the RXTE here.